Published: Bunty: #2065 (9 August 1997) – #2072 (27 September 1997)
Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)
Claire Thomas is extremely worried about her friend Kerry Simpson. Kerry is a huge fan of a new pop group called Dream Boyz, especially its lead singer, Rob. But it turns into an obsession that is getting out of hand and begins to hurt everyone around her.
The first sign of real trouble is when Kerry steals a video recording of Dream Boyz from her friend Julia. When Claire puts pressure on Kerry to quietly return it, Kerry does so – but then steals it again.
When Kerry has Claire around, she just ignores her because she’s miles away, daydreaming about Dream Boyz. When Kerry hears Rob likes women who are dressed in black, have short hair, and wear wild jewellery so they stand out in the street, she sets off to have a makeover in that style although she hates black and likes her long hair. She even dyes her hair black. Kerry’s boyfriend Dan is appalled because he liked Kerry the way she was. Now she’s almost unrecognisable.
Claire learns Kerry paid for her makeover with the money she was saving for a trip to Disneyland Paris with her parents and Dan. She tells Kerry that the folks will be furious after the arrangements they have made for Disneyland Paris, but all Kerry cares about is Dream Boyz.
Dan hears about how Kerry misused the money for Disneyland Paris, but that’s not the reason he is now thinking of dumping her. It’s because when she has him around, she neglects him too because she’s too wrapped up daydreaming about Dream Boyz.
Claire tries to talk sense into Kerry and informs her what Dan is thinking of. But Kerry isn’t listening and is far more interested in how to get to Dream Boyz concerts that are too far away to get to.
Kerry almost falls under the wheels of a truck because she’s too preoccupied with listening to Dream Boyz on her Walkman to pay attention to the road. Claire saves her, but not even this brings Kerry to her senses. Her head is still full of Dream Boyz.
Before long, Claire is the only friend Kerry has left. She breaks up with Dan, and she doesn’t even turn a hair, much less get jealous, when Dan starts dating another girl, because she’s too obsessed with Dream Boyz. She also falls out with her friends Julia and Lois, just because Lois doesn’t like Dream Boyz. Kerry misses out on Lois’ birthday party in consequence. And it isn’t long before Kerry’s obsession severely tries her friendship with Claire as well. Kerry gets a signed photograph and believes Rob personally signed it for her. Claire says it’s just a publicity photo, and gets one as well to prove her point. But instead of stopping to think as Claire hopes, Kerry gets the impression that Claire has become a fan too.
But the real strain on their friendship begins when Kerry plans to play truant in order to attend a Dream Boyz concert and wants Claire to come too. Against her better judgement Claire does so, in order to keep an eye on Kerry. Kerry has arranged her cover note and instructs Claire to have a boy named David tell teachers she’s unwell. As they set off for the station, they notice Julia and Lois driving by with their parents.
While waiting for the concert, Kerry meets another fan, Tanya (hmm, wonder if any of these fans played truant too?). Claire isn’t enjoying herself because she is not a Dream Boyz fan like the others. Moreover, she begins to worry that she has been found out when she phones home, but nobody answers.
Tanya wins a draw to see Rob after the concert and Kerry jumps at her invitation to come along. Claire is annoyed at this because it will make them miss their train. Claire is even more furious when it turns out to be for nothing: they are told the interview’s off as Rob is too ill – again. The message is delivered with a “yeah, riiight” hint that Claire picks up on. It turns out to be a foreshadowing of what happens in the final episode, but that will be discussed later. Right now the Dream Boyz crazy-girls dismiss it and want to stay on to see how Rob is. However, Claire insists on not missing another train and this time Kerry is obliged to come along. As they leave, Tanya gives Kerry a piece of paper.
Missing the earlier train has made Claire late home and now she is extremely worried about big trouble. Luckily for Claire, her parents haven’t even noticed because they were out at the new supermarket. Claire is relieved to get away with it.
But Kerry isn’t so lucky – the school has somehow found her out and she receives a summons to see the Head! Kerry is convinced Lois and Julia sneaked on her (Claire doesn’t believe it) because they saw her at the station and swears vengeance. Meanwhile, Claire decides to tell David the truth about what happened. When she is through, he is also concerned about Kerry’s obsession. Claire finds she has an attraction for David too.
Claire hopes the Head will knock some sense into Kerry, but no such luck. Kerry is as bad as ever. In fact, she gets even worse because her angry parents have told her to get rid of her Dream Boyz collection. Kerry wants Claire to mind it instead, but Claire puts her foot down because she had a bad fright from her narrow escape and doesn’t want any more involvement. Kerry gets into a real huff and won’t speak to Claire. Yet she has the nerve to dump the Dream Boyz collection at Claire’s house, with a note saying she will split about Claire’s role in the truancy business if she doesn’t look after the collection. In other words – Kerry is blackmailing Claire!
Claire is horrified at this, and so is David when he hears. He advises Claire to tell Kerry to get lost and accompanies her to Kerry’s house to help her do that. But when they arrive there is no sign of Kerry. The parents are worried. It looks like she has gone to another concert, and there is a connection to a girl named Tanya. Claire and David go to check through Kerry’s collection for a clue as to her whereabouts.
On the way they bump into Julia, and they learn her family’s car has been vandalised. This has caused a particular nuisance because they needed the car to go visit Julia’s brother Oliver in hospital. They have to use a taxi instead. Recalling Kerry’s threat against Julia and Lois, Claire gets a horrible suspicion as to who vandalised the car.
David and Claire discover the blackmail note has been written on the back of the piece of paper Tanya gave Kerry. It lists Tanya’s phone number and Rob’s home address. They head out to the address, and find Kerry there, along with Tanya and other fans, who have come to wish Rob “Happy Birthday”. At first Kerry denies the vandalism of the car, but then she admits it when she hears how it has interfered with the Oliver emergency.
Then Rob himself turns up – driving his car in such a reckless manner that he nearly runs over an old lady’s dog and is not in the least bit sorry about it. He continues to act in a rude, callous, arrogant manner right in front of his fans, including brushing Kerry aside when she tries to get his autograph for Oliver: “Clear off, kid!” Rob goes off into his home with a girl who is totally unconcerned about his conduct. And it is very suspicious that the girl, whose body language suggests she is Rob’s girlfriend, is not dressed in the manner Rob has led his fans to believe he likes in women…
Kerry’s illusions about Rob have been shattered and she’s in tears. But of course it is the definitive cure for her Dream Boyz mania. There is a slight hint in the panel that Tanya and the other fans have also become disillusioned with Rob. Kerry now realises how badly she has behaved and is deeply sorry. Claire is relieved that the Dream Boyz nightmare is finally over.
There have been plenty of girls’ serials that warn what can happen if something is taken to extremes, even if it is something considered beneficial, such as charity work. Becoming overly obsessed with a pop star is an all-too-common thing, and there must have been a lot of readers who winced a bit as they read this story, because they would have seen or even experienced something like it in their own lives. There are also plenty of parents exasperated with pop-crazy teenage daughters and sons who would relate to this story too.
Claire is a friend in a million. She is the only one who stands by Kerry while Kerry’s obsession with Dream Boyz drives off all her other friends and boyfriend, causes her to miss out on things, ruins the prospects of her Disneyland Paris, gets her into trouble with her parents and the Head, and even almost gets her run over. But none of it gets through to Kerry. In fact, Kerry begins to ruin her very last friendship with the way she treats Claire in dragging her down into truancy to attend a Dream Boyz concert, which could have gotten Claire into big trouble, and even stooping to blackmailing her own friend. Kerry was lucky she still had a friend in Claire after that.
Kerry’s obsession is also making her do things that she would not have otherwise done. By turns we see Kerry steal from Julia, squander money she was saving that would upset travel plans, play truant from school, destroy her friendships, resort to blackmail, and even commit vandalism. She doesn’t have the slightest twinge of guilt or common sense about it because her obsession with Dream Boyz has made her too single-minded. So there is no reasoning with her. The only thing that can get through is shock treatment. And Kerry gets it from Rob himself, who turns out to be a selfish git who cares nothing about his own fans. We have to wonder how long Dream Boyz will last once word gets out that its own lead singer has such an attitude towards his fans.
Meanwhile, Kerry will be answerable to the consequences of her conduct, including the damaged car. And it was all for nothing because Rob did not turn out to be the dreamboat Kerry imagined him to be. One can only hope this will be a factor in forgiveness for her.